Oscars Race: Taiwan Submits Lou Yi-An’s ‘Goddamned Asura’ for Best International Feature Film

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Lou Yi-An’s “Goddamned Asura” has been selected as Taiwan’s entry for best international feature film at the Academy Awards.

The decision to submit the social psychological drama into the Oscar race was announced by the Bureau of Audiovisual and Music Industry Development, part of Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture on Monday.

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The film premiered at the Golden Horse Film Festival in November 2021 and picked up multiple awards at the Taipei Film Awards in June.. It had its commercial release in Taiwan in March this year.

The third film by Lou (2013’s “White Lies, Black Lies” and “A Place of One’s Own”) presents a multi-layered narrative drama that delves into a random shooting by an ordinary teenager through six characters, a popular video game and an alternate reality.

The leading cast members are Joseph Huang, Morning Mo, Huang Peijia, Devin Pan, Wang Yu-Xuan and Lai Hao-zhe.

The film was produced by Content Digital Film and Seashore Image Productions. Hope Marketing Entertainment is handling international Sales.

Lou’s previous work was known for his dark humor and the character-driven interleaving storyline in his
films. He is deeply interested in Taiwanese local culture, racial issues and social problems caused by class differences and generation gaps. He has said that “Goddamned Asura” was inspired by real events in Taiwan.

South Korea Submits ‘Decision to Leave

South Korea has selected Park Chan-wook’s “Decision to Leave” as its national contender in the International Feature Film section of the Academy Awards. The film had its world premiere in competition at Cannes and earned Park the festival’s best director award.

Announcement of the decision was made on Thursday evening by the Korean Film Council (KOFIC).

“All the films in the running had artistic merit, but when we took into consideration the particular characteristics of the Academy Awards, the film’s pure artistry, the director’s name recognition, workmanship and directing skill, the possibility of box office success in the North American market, and the ability of overseas distributors to promote, we agreed that [“Decision to Leave”] is the most appropriate choice,” said the KOFIC committee. “We look forward to the promoting this work.”

Starring Korea’s Park Hae-il and Chinese star Tang Wei, the film tells a slow-burn tale of police detective who starts out investigating the death of a man in the mountains, but falls for the mysterious charm of his not-very-grieving widow.

The film was released in Korean theaters on June 29, 2022, and remains in the top ten chart. As of Wednesday, it had grossed $14.2 million from 1.79 million spectators.

In North America, the film is scheduled to play at the Toronto festival in September and the New York Film Festival in October, ahead of a commercial release through Mubi, penciled in for Oct. 14.

Korean films had never won in the Oscars foreign-language category until 2020 when “Parasite” claimed four Oscar wins including best film, best international feature film, achievement in directing for Bong Joon-ho and best original screenplay. Given the subsequent success of Korean-language film “Minari” and the attention drawn to Korean TV drama since the release of “Squid Game,” “Decision” stands out as an immediate front-runner.

Switzerland Submits “A Piece of Sky”

Switzerland has chosen Berlin competition title  “A Piece of Sky” as its International Feature Film contender.

Honored with a special mention at Berlin, “A Piece of Sky” marks director Michael Koch’s  follow-up to his 2016 debut “Marija,” which marked him out as a talent-to-track. Set in a remote Alpine farming community, “A Piece of Sky” follows a taciturn farmhand, Marco (Simon Wisler) and a single mother, Anna (Michèle Brand), who build a life together in the Alps. When Marco falls ill with a brain tumor everything changes, bu. Anna stands by Marco through thick and thin. 

In his review, Variety’s Guy Lodge hailed “A Piece of Sky” as an impressive, austere Alpine tragedy.

“Stunning image-making fills out the stark storytelling in Swiss director Michael Koch’s potent, stoically moving second feature,” Lodge added. 

“A Piece of Sky” is produced by Hugofilm. New Europe Film Sales handles world sales. 

“Michael Koch’s ‘A Piece of Sky’ is marked by powerful images that are able to maintain the tension between the apparent simplicity and the great weight of the drama,” said the Swiss jury that selected the film.

“In this way, emotions develop their resonance and attain depth. Carried by strong amateur actors, the film surrenders to the rhythm of nature and regards its protagonists as part of the rugged mountain world. Their love not only stands up to the adverse circumstances, but also dares to question the inevitability of death,” added the jury, led by Swiss writer-director Stéphanie Chuat.

The 95th Oscar awards ceremony will take place on March 12, 2023.  

Ireland Submits ‘The Quiet Girl’

The Irish Film and Television Academy (IFTA) has chosen Colm Bairéad’s Irish-Language film “The Quiet Girl” (“An Cailín Ciúin”) as Ireland’s entry for the Oscars’ best international feature film category at the 95th Academy Awards.

Set in rural Ireland in 1981, the coming-of-age film follows Cáit (Catherine Clinch) as she is sent from her overcrowded, dysfunctional household to live with distant relatives for the summer. It recently became the first Irish-language film to win the Irish Academy Award for best film and received seven awards including director, actress, cinematography, editing, production design and original score.

The film was selected by IFTA’s 2023 Irish Selection Committee, which includes producer and Emmy-nominated actor Roma Downey (“Ben-Hur”), Oscar-nominated actor John C. Reilly (“Chicago”), producer and Paramount TV executive VP of international strategy David Flynn (“Bodkin”), Oscar-nominated director Jim Sheridan (“My Left Foot”), director Aisling Walsh (“Maudie”) and actor Fionnula Flanagan (“The Others”). The committee was chaired by Academy CEO, Áine Moriarty.

Moriarty said: “This is such a unique and beautiful film that captures your heart from the outset, and leaves you profoundly moved. How proud we are to submit this outstanding Irish language film into the Oscar competition, to compete with the best in the world, as we know this story will resonate with international audiences, beyond the borders of language, and no doubt with American Academy members too.”

Bairéad and producer Cleona Ní Chrualaoi of Inscéal added: “We are honored beyond words that “An Cailín Ciúin”/”The Quiet Girl” has been selected to represent Ireland. Our heartfelt thanks to IFTA and its selection committee. We have always believed in the idea that an Irish-language film could stand shoulder to shoulder with the best of world cinema and we feel so proud to be representing our country and our language in this way. It has been an extraordinary privilege adapting Claire Keegan’s ‘Foster’ to the big screen and we can’t wait to introduce our film to more and more members of the Academy as ‘The Quiet Girl’ continues its roll-out on the international stage.”

“The Quiet Girl” was produced by Ní Chrualaoí as part of the Cine4 funding scheme for Irish-language film, in partnership with Screen Ireland, TG4, and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, and the film is also in receipt of the Irish Government’s Section 481 tax incentive.

The international film contenders will next be shortlisted to 15 finalists on Dec. 21. These will then be ultimately shortlisted to the final five Oscar nominees in the category on Jan. 24, 2023. The 95th Academy Awards ceremony is currently scheduled to take place on March 12, 2023 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

World sales for “The Quiet Girl” are being handled by Bankside Films.

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